Anthony Davis
(Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

Lakers deny Pistons in block party for the ages

by Rodrigo Azurmendi
Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES – The Lakers rejected the Pistons' upset attempt. Literally.

In winning their 29th game of the season Sunday night, Frank Vogel’s squad racked up 20 blocked shots against Detroit, only one short of tying the franchise record. To put that in perspective, the Lakers came into the game leading the NBA with 7.1 per night.

They sure needed every last one of them, as their scrappy opponent fought until the end in a duel that was tied with 4:41 to go in regulation.

The game was bizarre from end to end, as the Lakers held Detroit 37.2% from the field – in big part thanks to a highlight reel of swatted attempts – but sent them to the line 35 times.

“We want to be dominant defensively and we have the ability to be dominant, in particular in the paint,” Vogel said in praising his team’s interior defense.

The Pistons made 30 of them, keeping them alive throughout a night in which Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard formed an impenetrable brick wall near the rim.

AD had eight blocks by himself – a pair shy of his career-high. That was the most for a Laker player since Shaquille O’Neal had nine in 2003.

McGee added six and ‘Superman’ another five, allowing the Lakers to become the first team in the NBA to reach 20 blocks in a game since the Toronto Raptors did it on November 7, 2001.

Moreover, Davis and McGee became the first pair of teammates to notch at least six each since Dirk Nowitzki and Erick Dampier did it for the Dallas Mavericks in 2005.

“Our three big guys just played exceptional basketball,” Vogel said. “I think we, as a group, we’re not happy about giving up 68 points in the paint against the Pelicans. That was sort of the theme of our film session yesterday. Those guys took a lot of pride in protecting our rim tonight.”

Despite all that, the Lakers found themselves trailing at the beginning of the final period.

The good news was that a couple of mighty subs (with LeBron James at the controls) were ready to turn things around.

The Lakers opened the fourth on a 15-0 run, led by His Freshness, Alex Caruso. As they say, not all heroes wear capes, but a lot of them sport headbands.

Caruso finished the game with 13 points off the bench, while Howard had 11 and nine boards.

Davis also had a huge impact on the offensive side, scoring 11 of his 24 in the last 3:40 of the game.

Meanwhile, James was his usual self en route to the 90th triple-double of his career: 21 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists.

And with the bigs doing the blockin’ and LeBron in charge of the dishin’, the shooting (6-for-20 from beyond the arc) was the one missing piece of the puzzle.

That is if we don’t count the heroics of the sniper of La Habra.

Congrats, Evan!

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